The national research network Swedish Brain Power, which is led and coordinated from Karolinska Institutet, is to receive SEK 100 million from the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation. Its research focuses on early diagnosis and treatment and improved care for patients with Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and ALS.
"This means that Sweden can retain its position at the forefront of neuroresearch both in Europe and globally," says Professor Bengt Winblad. "Swedish neuroresearch will now be an even more attractive partner for Swedish and international industry."
The progressis made by researchers in the network include important discoveries for early diagnosis of dementia disorders. New biomarkers have been developed that can be analysed in cerebrospinal fluid and reflect what is happening in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers have also established joint databases, including the Swedish dementia register SveDem, which is paving the way for consistent diagnosis and treatment of dementia disorders nationwide. New risk genes have been found for MS, ALS and frontotemporal dementia, and new animal models have been developed which are opening exciting new research possibilities. Instruments have also been produced for measuring various factors in the care and functional capacity of healthy elderly and those with cognitive problems.
"When it comes to pharmaceutical research, the Clinics involved in the Swedish Brain Power programme is often the first choice for companies looking to conduct clinical trials of new treatments for Alzheimer’s disease," says Bengt Winblad.
He is hopeful about the possibility of developing a new generation of medicines for Alzheimer’s in the next five years. Promising ideas for new medicines for Parkinson’s and ALS are also being explored.
The grant from the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation of SEK 20 million annually for five years will boost interest in neurodegenerative disorders in different parts of society.
Swedish Brain Power was launched in 2005 with a five-year grant from Invest in Sweden Agency, the Knowledge Foundation, the Foundation for Strategic Research, the Vårdal Foundation, the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation and VINNOVA. The network includes leading neuroresearchers from Umeå, Nordanstig, Uppsala, Stockholm, Linköping, Gothenburg, Lund and Malmö. Its activities are determinedly multidisciplinary and prioritise collaboration between academia and industry. The international group of experts that evaluated its research in 2008 hailed the network as "a success".